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Gabriel Schmitt hopes to improve UMass health services as student trustee

(Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian)

(Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian)

Gabriel Schmitt’s inspiration to get involved with the Student Government Association started with none other than his mom.

“She worked with people in the SGA when she was negotiating with administrators over cuts they were trying to make to University Health Services. She told me about how student government people had a prominent voice in those negotiations,” he said. “My freshmen year, I wanted to get to know that position that she had described to me.”

So during his first year at the University of Massachusetts, he did just that, becoming a part of the SGA Senate. Now, three years later, he’s looking to become the next student trustee and embrace the role as the voice of the student body.

Schmitt sees the role of student trustee as being the “most prominent representative” on campus. He spoke about the importance of the strong working relationship between the student trustee and people making policy and fee decisions.

Currently, Schmitt doesn’t have a position with the SGA but he cites his work with the Crabtree-Knowlton House council, University Health Council, town meeting delegations and the Faculty Senate Council as experience that would make him a strong candidate for student trustee.

He also believes that going to Amherst Regional High School and growing up watching the UMass campus transition and change gives him an edge.

“I have a lot of experience around UMass,” he said. “I’ve (known) this university for a very long time and I think that’s a benefit for my understanding (of the campus).”

With such experience, Schmitt said that as student trustee, he would embrace his role as a voice for the students, putting emphasis on student health.

According to Schmitt, the health services on campus are in need of attention, and he’s looking for ways to make positive change.

“Candidates are all going to be doing different things,” he said. “I’ve been working a very long time on this issue and sort of how UMass has dealt with health policy, how UHS has been running, and since that is a large student issue that has gone unaddressed by the student government, I think that makes me a very viable person to be the trustee because I have that type of experience that is rare.”

In order to make campus-wide improvements, Schmitt’s main goals involve two referendum bills, one of which will be on the spring ballot and involves a fee increase to benefit health services. The second would fund and establish a new health center on campus.

“That would definitely be a big priority for me,” Schmitt said. “Not just trying to get funding for it, but trying to make sure a new health services facility, if it were funded, would be built well and built with input.”

Thus far, he said, there’s been a lot of support for this.

From a personal point of view, he is also in the early stages of considering reforms for his own major.

“Mechanical engineering is very difficult, and I think there could be some benefit to reviewing some of the coursework,” he said.

In order to get his name out there, Schmitt is relying mostly on word of mouth. He is looking to find campaign workers and plans to visit lectures in the hopes that his running gives students a chance to vote for a unique brand of candidate.

“I would hope that I could offer something to vote on that really gets their attention,” Schmitt said. “I’m hoping to offer an alternative to the classic student government person.”

Jaclyn Bryson can be reached at jbryson@umass.edu.

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